Right Decision for the Wrong Reason

Last night the Baltimore County Council took a big step in introducing the concept of free markets to Maryland.

A bill was introduced which removed a requirement that a “need” be shown before a new towing company could receive a license to do business in the county:

A key provision of [Councilman Kenneth] Oliver’s legislation is the removal of a requirement that the county prove there is a “need” for additional towing services before issuing new towing licenses.

That provision of the existing law has prevented several towing companies, including at least one minority-owned towing company, from doing business in Baltimore County, officials said.

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This is the correct move. The idea that a governmental body, and not the free market, should determine the correct level of service to consumers is patently ridiculous. This is as true for hack licenses in New York City and Chicago as it is for tow truck licenses in Baltimore County. In an open market, the level of demand will very quickly reduce the number of entrants to the optimal number.

That, of course, was the right thing. The wrong reason was alluded to in the second paragraph.

A bill that would break up a “monopoly” of white-owned towing companies is finally being introduced at Tuesday night’s Baltimore County Council meeting.

“We’ve ironed out the issues,” said the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Kenneth Oliver, D-District 4, who twice had to withdraw the legislation from council consideration.

Oliver said Baltimore County’s 33 towing companies, which all are owned by white men, have consistently objected to new companies doing business in the county.

That’s right. We can’t change the law to provide better service to consumers, or simply to reduce the scope of state interference in the most mundane transactions in our daily lives, but we can change it because Pale Male People benefit from the law.

While Mr. Oliver is judging on the basis of the color of someone’s skin I think we can feel comfortable in judging Mr. Oliver by the content of his character.

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